Fleas, stock market crash and cost of rent - hear the stories behind some of Auckland's 26,000 homeless

A carpark in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga has become a drive-in for the homeless.

Over two nights, 1 NEWS went to several locations across the city where people had parked up last year and where social agencies knew of people now.

Over 26,000 people are classed as homeless in Auckland - here are some of their stories. 

Nowhere else to go

Charlie said he was sleeping in a shopping centre carpark in Onehunga because he was broke and had nowhere else to go.

The 60-year-old used to be a truck driver before his last flat got infested with fleas and he was forced to move out for health reasons.

Charlie said he had been in the carpark for six weeks waiting to be placed in a state house as the private rental market was too expensive.

A neighbouring van was sheltering a man who moved to New Zealand from the Pacific, fresh out of a long-term relationship.

The father of two is in full-time employment but said due to ongoing child support and debt payments, he could not afford to pay rent at the moment.

Dad and two sons live in a station wagon

Across town, another father is housing his two sons in a station wagon, where they spend most nights watching movies on a cellphone.

He said while he could afford to move into a house thanks to savings, he didn't want to pay thousands of dollars to secure a property when he did not have a job.

The family is considering a move south where the cost of living is cheaper and they'd get easier access to help.

WINZ too complicated says elderly woman who sleeps in her car

An elderly woman who used to work full-time before she retired said being homeless was just another chapter in her life.

She had owned her own house before she was forced to sell it due to a stock market crash. She now sleeps in the driver's seat of her Toyota, wrapped in a blanket, overlooking a duck pond.

She said she had never asked for help from the state before but when she turned up to Work and Income, the system was too complicated and so she walked away.

The woman said she has family but is too embarrassed to reach out.

We need to be able to track whether we're resolving this problem or if the problem is getting bigger - Auckland Mayor Phil Goff

Last winter, Bruce Pulman Park in Takanini was the place to bunk up but is now empty because Auckland Council has started locking the gates at night.

Mayor's response

Mayor Phil Goff said Auckland is New Zealand's biggest and wealthiest city but it's struggling with "extreme homelessness".

Mr Goff announced the first region-wide count of people living without shelter today, saying there is little data on the size and nature of chronic homelessness.

Mr Goff said social and government agencies need to know what the scale of them problem is.

"We need to be able to track whether we're resolving this problem or if the problem is getting bigger and we're not putting sufficient resources into it," he said.

It's estimated that as many as 26,000 people are homeless in Auckland, including those in temporary accommodation with relatives or in unsuitable dwellings.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has fronted up over residents being forced to live life on the street or in cars. Source: 1 NEWS



Who is South Auckland's rogue zebra crossing painter?

A mysterious pedestrian crossing painter has struck again after a rogue zebra crossing popped up outside a South Auckland school - the second such occurrence at the school over the past year.

Patumahoe Primary School principal Jade Tawhiti spoke to TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning about the latest incident.

"The first one was in, I think it was November last year and it was quite a good job, that one - looked like a mini roller, pretty good white lines," he siad. "And they were actually good from the footpath when you're viewing them, but when you drove down the road, they were all over the show.

"It was quite funny at the time, but sort of when you thought about the safety implications of that, it wasn't so funny."

Mr Tawhiti said after the first incident, "Auckland Transport came rushing here (and) tore shreds out of our staff, sort of thinking that we did it".

He said Auckland Transport painted over the lines with blank paint, but the second time "someone's gone and used a spray can and spray painted the zebra lines".

A pedestrian crossing does need to be installed outside the school, the principal said, explaining that there are "a few variables" in place making it difficult to cross the road safely.

"(There's) high speeds from locals and passersby and there's a couple of funny corners and bends which create low visibility, and a few issues for kids crossing and parents," he said.

However, he says homemade paint jobs could be dangerous for students due to the confusion over whether or not it is safe to cross.

"At the end of the day, it creates confusion, so if you've got white lines and kids assuming it's a legal, proper pedestrian crossing, they're going to walk," he said. "As it stands now, it's what they call a care crossing, which actually has to be manned by patrollers or monitors, and we have the swinigng arms."

Auckland Transport spokesperson Mark Hannan said a real zebra crossing will be installed outside Patumahoe School by March or April of next year.
 

Patumahoe Primary School principal Jade Tawhiti spoke to Breakfast this morning about the incident. Source: 1 NEWS


Students at all-girls school in Southland protest absence of trades classes

Female students are calling for trades classes to be offered at their Southland all-girls school.

Currently, Southland Girls High School does not offer woodwork or metalwork programmes in their school curriculum, making it difficult for students interested in learning the trade to try their hand at the subject, Stuff reports.

Southland Girls High School principal Yvonne Browning said the school is "not adverse to (offering the classes) at all" but there are issues surrounding the school's ability to do so, including funding constraints, health and safety and staffing numbers.

Ms Browning said school isn't the only area to expose female students to the trades.

"I don't think you have to be at school to be able to do it," she said. "It's not imperative to do it at school."

However, Otago Girls' High School, which has been offering hard materials courses for over two decades, says the classes are popular among students.

"We see the skills the girls develop through hard materials technology as really enhancing their educational experience with critical thinking, creativity and communication key," said principal Linda Miller. 

Ministry of Education spokeswoman Pauline Cleaver said parents or caregivers can "provide feedback and input into their local school on the curriculum" and "should approach their school if they have concerns about their school's curriculum".

Unrecognizable manual worker using circular saw while cutting piece of wood at construction site. His colleagues are in the background.
Building site. (file image) Source: istock.com

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Historic sex abuse victim calls for sacking at prestigous St Bede's college in Christchurch

A sex abuse victim is calling for a prestigious Catholic school to sack its rector for not removing a teacher who sexually assaulted him years ago.

Peter Boock has complained to the board of trustees at St Bede's College in Christchurch, and to the Education Council, about the rector Justin Boyle.

Mr Boyle initiated an investigation of the teacher Robin Pettit in 2011, when Mr Boock first made a complaint.

Mr Pettit has admitted sexually assaulting Mr Boock in Dunedin in the late 1960s, when he was about 19 - and before Mr Pettit was a teacher - and the former a young teen.

Mr Pettit continued teaching at St Bede's after the complaint and investigation.

"I'm asking for the board of trustees to remove Justin Boyle," Mr Boock told RNZ.

"He, in 2011, carried on with a self-confessed child abuser in a senior teaching role, and enabled him to keep teaching the children. That's untenable."

St Bede's College, Christchurch. (Phil Pennington) Source: rnz.co.nz

The school board rejected that.

"St Bede's College categorically denies any claims that it failed to properly investigate a complaint about one of its teachers in 2011, which relate to events that took place between two people in the 1960s," board of trustees Chair Warren Johnstone said in a statement to RNZ

RNZ has heard the taped call in which Otago Daily Times reporter Chris Morris asked Robin Pettit for his response to Mr Boock's claim that he was abused by Mr Pettit as a young man in Otago.

The reporter asked Mr Pettit if he "attacked" Peter Boock when he was about 14 years old.

"Yep, yep, yep, yep, I did, yes, as you say, yes," Mr Pettit said on the tape. "I did.

"I did have a bad period there for a short time ... deeply regretful about that but ... I was quite glad when he actually approached me about it there back in 2011."

Mr Pettit told the Otago Daily Times' Chris Morris he had been informed by St Bede's that the reporter was looking into this. Asked if Peter Boock was "the only one", he said yes.

"As I said to Peter [Boock] and to Justin [Boyle], there's no excuse, but it was not a good period of my growing up life at all."

RNZ approached Mr Pettit this week. He said the Otago Daily Times story was "wrong" but would not say in what way, and then refused to comment further, saying the matter was with St Bede's lawyers.

Mr Pettit retired from St Bede's in 2015. In December 2016 he accompanied students to the New Zealand Secondary School National Athletics Champs.

The rector Justin Boyle refused come out of his office to talk to an RNZ reporter who visited St Bede's.

Mr Boock said over a course of nine months, in 1967-68, Mr Pettit assaulted him repeatedly, trying to masturbate him.

"I'm afraid there's no letting anyone off for sexual abuse ... it's never been anything else but a shocking crime against children," Mr Boock told RNZ.

"The fact that it's years later, and whether he's repeated or not repeated, is not the case for me. He ruined my young youth as I grew up and that's lived with me for 44 years. That's very hard to say it's OK, cos I won't and it's not."

Mr Boock, 64, is a trained social worker whose brother Stephen Boock played cricket for New Zealand.

He said Mr Boyle told him in 2011 that Mr Pettit had admitted the assaults when confronted with an affidavit from Mr Boock in 2011.

He had approached the rector after learning out of the blue that Mr Pettit was a teacher, working at St Bede's. At the time he was not well, and did not want the stress of the police and courts, he said.

Mr Boock admitted that in 2011 he had thanked the school for its investigation and for covering all the bases. But this could in no way be taken as a sign the school had investigated properly, he said, as he was traumatised back then, and took some years to recover, including from alcoholism.

Mr Pettit should never have been a teacher, and at the least should have resigned in 2011 when the school did not move to dismiss him, Mr Boock said.

His only aim in going public was to protect children by pushing for better laws for mandatory reporting of abuse and independent investigations of complaints, he said.

His complaint will be considered by the board on Monday next week.

The college was "deeply concerned about lack of due process in regards to the claims being made via the media", the board chair Warren Johnstone said.

"The College has and will always ensure that any complaint of misconduct is properly investigated and addressed, while respecting people's right to privacy and proper process."

The Network of Survivors of Abuse in Faith-based Institutions backed the call for Justin Boyle to step down.

Mr Boock said he would not have had to go public in this way if he felt confident the upcoming Royal Commission into historical abuse would have allowed him to raise the case, and have the school's response investigated.

By Phil Pennington

rnz.co.nz

Peter Boock has complained to the board of trustees at St Bede's College and the Education Council. (Phil Pennington) Source: rnz.co.nz


Ban 1080 activist denies killing native birds scattered across Parliament's steps by children - 'an act of theatre'

A Ban 1080 activist has denied killing any of the native birds that were scattered across Parliament's steps by children in a protest over the use of the pesticide.

Parliament's Speaker Trevor Mallard yesterday revealed five native birds were among those placed on the precinct - including two kererū which appear to have been bludgeoned to death.

He's laid a complaint with the police and the Department of Conservation (DOC). It is illegal to kill or possess native wildlife.

Department of Conservation staff say in the past month they've had their car tyres slashed and wheel nuts loosened. Source: 1 NEWS

One of the protest's leaders Alan Gurden told RNZ none of the creatures had been harmed by the protesters.

"They were dead creatures.... we're not the sort of people to go round killing birds to make a point."

The quail and weka were roadkill, but the other birds and mice had been collected from a 1080 drop-zone, he said.

"These animals were all killed from various methods but it certainly was not at the hand of us.... It was an act of theatre designed to show New Zealand what we put up with on the frontline."

He said the carcasses had been given to one of his friends to store after they were collected from drop-zones or from the roadside.

"I'm not going to divulge my source, but someone else brought those to the scene. They were laid on the steps by the children," Mr Gurden said.

"So technically I have never owned, or had in my possession, any native birds."

Mr Gurden refused to name his friend who stored the birds, but said there was "no way" he would have killed them.

"I've known him for quite a while. He's on the same cause as me and he has the same kaupapa as me," he said.

"There's no way he'd go out and kill birds to prove a point."

Mr Gurden said he had not been contacted by the police or DOC. In a statement, police said inquiries were ongoing.

Anti-1080 activists wielding placards and loudspeakers marched to Parliament over the weekend demanding an end to the use of the poison.

A vast array of conservation and farming organisations support the use of 1080, describing it is an effective pest control tool.

They include DOC, the Environmental Protection Agency, the independent Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, and lobby groups like Federated Farmers and Forest and Bird.

- By Craig McCulloch

rnz.co.nz

Marama Davidson said New Zealand needs "community-led conversations" about the use of 1080. Source: 1 NEWS